In a previous column, we took a look at the thunderbirds, the legendary large winged creatures that are believed to fly above the skies of the Western states. Various American Indian tribes knew about these awesome creatures and told myths and legends about their mysterious powers.

But it seems that the thunderbirds could also inhabit the eastern part of North America as well. One of them apparently provided a nasty scare for an unsuspecting man.

According to a Web site, this man, who wanted to stay anonymous, was driving on a rural two-lane highway just outside of the town of Clendenin, W.Va. one morning in early October 2007. It was about 8 a.m.

Suddenly, the man had to hit his brakes when he was confronted by the sight of a giant flying creature in the middle of the road. The huge bird was only a few yards ahead of him and it was feeding on some road kill. The witness, who is an avid hunter, was startled by the size of the creature. He estimated it stood at least 4 feet tall and it's head extended above the roofline of his vehicle.

He described the large bird as being covered with very dark brown or black feathers. It had a large head and its long neck appeared to be slightly crooked. The beak was very long and the eyes were quite dark. But the most impressive thing about this animal was its massive wingspan. It was easily as wide as the two-lane road upon which it stood, according to the online report.

"It had a very muscular upper torso and the wings were as if they were its arms," said the man.

The startled man said the creature's wing tips stirred up the dust and gravel on both sides of the road as it started to fly away. The witness added he was in a state of shock as he watched it fly off. He later returned to the site and measured the distance across the road from edge to edge. It was about 21 feet.

The man also did some research to find out exactly what he had just seen. The closest creature he could find was in a book. It was a drawing of a teratornis, an extinct bird from the prehistoric era. It was larger than the Andean Condor and was the largest species of flying bird ever encountered by man. It became extinct around the end of the last Ice Age, according to a Web site.

But perhaps the teratornis is not extinct after all. Some researchers in cryptozoology believe that the massive bird could have survived after all and formed the basis of the thunderbird legend among Native Americans. It could be still by flying over our heads and make an appearance when we least expect it, they say.


This column also took a look at South Carolina's legend about the Lizard Man. I am sorry to say that the man who first reported spotting this creature has been murdered.

Back in June 1988, 17-year-old Chris Davis was on his way home after working the late shift at the McDonald's in Bishopville, S.C. As he drove near Scape Ore Swamp, a tire on his car blew out. While struggling to fix his tire, the young Davis was attacked by a two-legged lizard-like creature that leaped out of the nearby swamp. The startled young man managed to shake the weird creature off and get out of there. His report would give birth to South Carolina's Lizard Man legend.

Media coverage at the time prompted a swell of attention, with local businesses selling "Lizard Man" T-shirts and the local chamber of commerce making the most of the publicity. The young Davis became an international celebrity.

But last week, Davis was shot to death at the age of 37 in an apparent drug-related incident. Police in Sumter, S.C. have a suspect in custody and, as of Tuesday, are looking for another in connection with the shooting death, according to a Web site.

It is a sad end for someone who helped give birth to one of the South's best-known paranormal legends.